Optimizing Bylined Articles for Business Development: Steps for Using Social Media to Generate Inquires

By Freedman, David M. | Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing, January 2010 | Go to article overview

Optimizing Bylined Articles for Business Development: Steps for Using Social Media to Generate Inquires


Freedman, David M., Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing


Writing articles and getting them published is a time-honored business development strategy for lawyers. A series of articles under your lawyers' bylines, published in respected periodicals and online media, can build name recognition and show they are authoritative, credible and reliable.

For small firms, writing articles may serve as the cornerstone of practice development, while large firms should integrate it into a broader strategic marketing plan. Using this strategy successfully requires strong writing and public relations expertise, but modest capital investment. It involves three steps:

1. Publication

Get a series of articles published under your lawyers' bylines.

2. Distribution

Send reprints directly to clients, prospects and referral sources, and give them an incentive to contact those lawyers (e.g., more information, a white paper, a free phone consultation).

3. Web Optimization

Post your lawyers' articles to the firm's Web site, and use search engine optimization (SEO) and social media optimization (SMO) to drive traffic to the articles, where readers will land inside your firm's Web domain.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

SMO is a relatively new marketing strategy--mainly because social media itself is still new. the narrow objective of SMO is to spread the word through various online communities that your attorney's article has been posted, tell how it will benefit people who read it and provide a hyperlink to it.

The New Prime Time

Social media evolved from new Internet technology that made it not just possible, but easy and cheap (often free) for non-tech users to contribute content to various kinds of Web sites. Blogging sites, for example, let you post, comment and discuss with other bloggers and commenters. Social networks let members post profiles and all manner of personal and business-oriented content. Anyone can write and edit entries for Wikipedia or post book reviews on Amazon.com. Wikis and forums let groups collaborate on content creation. You can upload photos to Flickr and short videos to YouTube. You can rate, share, recommend, tag and socially bookmark the content that others create.

In the early days of the World Wide Web, content flowed mainly one way: from Web sites to users. now content flows every which way and back again--it's a conversation. Around the middle of this decade, the new Internet became known variously as the user-generated Web, the social Web and Web 2.0.

Mainstream news and entertainment media have become increasingly social in the past few years. CNN's iReport and Fox's UReport led the way, letting "citizen journalists" post news stories on their sites and, of course, allowing other users to comment, rate, share, etc.

In mid-2008, the Internet went prime time. More people depend on the Internet for news and entertainment than on any other medium, according to comScore.

From a public relations standpoint, it's no longer a question of whether clients, prospects, referral sources, colleagues, employees and job applicants are engaging with social media. It's a question of how to find them, appeal to them and engage them via social media--whether they are at a desk, on the road, walking the dog or almost anywhere else.

SMO is a set of methods for attracting visitors to Web site content by promoting and publicizing it through social media. SMO is a subset of social media marketing, which is promoting and publicizing all kinds of products and services through social media. According to Wikipedia, SMO is one of two online methods of optimizing (attracting visitors to) Web site content; the other method is SEO.

There are two categories of SMO methods:

* Social media features that plug in to Web site content, including RSS feeds, commenting fields (a function of WordPress and other content management systems software); sharing and rating tools such as ShareThis, Digg and StumbleUpon; and social bookmarking tools such as Delicious; and

* Promotional activities in social media, including writing a blog, commenting on other blogs, participating in discussion groups and posting status updates on social networking profiles.

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Optimizing Bylined Articles for Business Development: Steps for Using Social Media to Generate Inquires
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